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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY             271

workmen's college, in which the study of things and actions
would be made the main concern and lead on to a knowledge of
all trades as expounded in a textbook specially prepared for the
purpose. At first sight, John Milton may seem to have little in
common with Petty and the other associates of Hartlib. The
education of which he speaks is the education given in an academy
to " our nobler and our gender youth," not the education of
common boys. It is a comprehensive course in the ancient
languages with provision for various modern subjects like mathe-
matics, medicine, modern languages, etc., but omitting altogether
the vernacular. Though Milton almost expressly puts himself
in opposition to the prevailing tendencies in education by speaking
disparagingly of the " many modern Januas and Didactics"
which he has no desire to read, he has really far more than he
knows in common with Comenius, the author thus covertly con-
demned. His very problem is Comenius's problem: he wants
to prevent " the waste of seven or eight years merely in scraping
together so much miserable Latin and Greek." And the line of
his solution is much the same. " Because our understanding
cannot in this body find itself but on sensible things, nor arrive
so clearly to the knowledge of God and things invisible, as by
orderly conning over the visible and inferior creature, the same
method is necessarily to be followed in all discreet teaching."
The practical conclusion from this is that things and not words
must be the primary objects of study. The pupils read Latin
and Greek, not for the language, but for the information about
war or agriculture or science, or whatever it may be which the
ancient authors provide. So far as Milton is concerned, the
language used is immaterial.

The application of the principles of Bacon and Comenius
to schoolroom practice is most interestingly shown in the writings
of Hezekiah Woodward. The education he wishes to impart
is one that will enable the child in any station in life to do his
work with good understanding. "For my part," he says, "had I
a child to design to the Plough or the Sea or to some less stirring
trade, I should as faithfully bestow on him the culture and manur-
ance of his mind first, and as readily, I should think, to very
good ends as another parent would, that had designed his to the
College." This was a view easy for him to hold because he saw
in the knowledge of nature, which is accessible to all, the gate,